Cooking can be a fun pastime, and for young people in China, recipe apps can come in especially handy if they’ve left their hometowns for careers in the big cities and crave recreating that taste of home. In 2011, China saw its first recipe app—Meishi China (美食天下)—and the market has since drawn in dozens of players. Now the country boasts over 33 million recipe app users.

Jiguang, a Chinese mobile data research firm, recently released a report on the steadily growing market of recipe apps in China. Here are some highlights.

No significant growth over the past year

Recreated by TechNode (Data source: Jiguang)

Recreated by TechNode (Data source: Jiguang)

As of July this year, the penetration rate of the recipe app market fell to 3.7% but remains around 3.5% over the past year. The user scale, however, has increased to over 33 million users, marking a 4.6% year-to-year growth.

Meishi China, one of the major players, in 2011 launched a mobile recipe app—the first recipe app in China—in addition to its website where it has started to accumulate users since 2004. The company has seen stable development on its mobile end, the report says.

Business model: advertising, e-commerce, data, offline stores

It’s no secret that recipe apps heavily rely on user-generated content (UGC), which naturally form an online community where users share their recipes and tips. With the user base and the community, the companies are able to monetize through advertising, e-commerce, data, and even offline courses. Douguo, a Chinese recipe app, has opened offline experiential stores, and Haodou, another recipe app, has organized offline meet-ups.

One of the significant assets of the recipe apps is the user data, which can be put in use for the design of home electronics. Douguo, for instance, has partnered with Samsung and Haier and provided them with standardized data as a reference for their product design, according to the report.

Xiachufang (下厨房) remains the one to beat

According to Jiguang’s data, the market penetration rate of almost every recipe app does not exceed 1%. However, Xiachufang’s penetration rate has remained over 1% the past year with the rate at 1.74% in the last week of July.

Recreated by TechNode (Data source: Jiguang)

Recreated by TechNode (Data source: Jiguang)

As for the retention rate (for 30 days after downloading), Xiachufang sees the best retention rate at 71.8%, meaning that among 10 new users, over seven of them keep the app. Also, Haodou and Douguo apps performed well with retention rate respectively at 69.2% and 67.9%.

Recreated by TechNode (Data source: Jiguang)

Recreated by TechNode (Data source: Jiguang)

In terms of daily active users (DAU), Xiachufang remains the one to beat. Over the past year, Xiachufang had an average of 1.5 million daily active users, while Douguo and Xiangha saw much fewer DAUs of 506,000 and 409,000 respectively.

Aside from the market share, it’s also worth noting that nearly 90% of the users installed only one recipe app, reflecting the fact that the competing apps share similarity at some point.

Many users are female; many come from Guangdong

The Jiguang report shows that 73.2% of recipe app users were female, and 70.8% of all users were under the age of 35. Also, users who were less than 25 years old accounted for 40.9% of all users.

Location-wise, about 47.3% of the recipe app users were from the first- and second-tier cities. In addition, Guangdong Province has the most users province-wise, taking up about 10.9% of all the users. Shanghai, Beijing, and Shenzhen remain the top three cities where the most users are from, respectively accounting for 4.4%, 4.3%, and 2.5% of all the users.